Here in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats Jesus describes His coming in glory to judge the Gentile nations as a shepherd who will separate the sheep from the goats, which is exactly what His word of truth was doing at that very time among the nation of the Jews. It is also what has happened over the centuries as the gospel has gone forth throughout the world, and what is happening even now in our own nation as the gospel forces men to choose between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of God. For this is the judgment: that the Light has come into this world that is full of men who love darkness. Those who are born from above of God’s Spirit to practice the truth are drawn to that light and separated by their nature as sheep to the King’s right. His words to them there are like the first gleam of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full light of day of the eternal happiness that awaits them as children of God and citizens of His kingdom. But those whose deeds are evil hate the light and will not come to the light lest their deeds should be exposed, and so are separated by their nature as goats to the King’s left where His words to them are like the enveloping darkness of a night that gives way not to day, but to an ever darker night as even the faintest hope of the dimmest star is extinguished; Pro 4:18-19, Joh 3:19-21. Such is the nature, and danger, of sin.
To those on His right, the King in the parable explained the richness of their reward, saying that their deeds of kindness to even the least of His brothers identified them as sheep who support the kingdom rule on earth of Him who has chosen the weak and base and despised and foolish things of the world to confound the wisdom of the world’s kingdoms; 1Co 1:26-28. What does the King now say to those on His left to explain their judgment and what identified them as goats that separates them out of His kingdom? See Mat 25:42-43. What do His words indicate about their incompatibility with His kingdom? Think: Can goats who love the world and the nature of its kingdoms ever truly love God and support the nature of His kingdom? See 1Jo 2:15.
As with the servant who buried his talent, was the sin of these one of misuse and abuse, or of omission? Were they condemned because they had taken food or water away from others, put them in prison, made them strangers, stripped them of their clothes, or caused their sickness? Cf. Amo 6:1,4-7. If eternal punishment is reserved for those who are at ease in Zion and too busy about their own pleasures to act with charity to such as these, what judgments must befall those whose love for the world is the cause of such deprivations, or who act with cruelty and persecute others? Cf. 1Co 15:9, 1Ti 1:15, 1Pe 4:18. In addition to persecutors and torturers, what does this also imply about the judgment of those who deliberately exploit people for worldly gain without regard for the deprivations they cause but which they justify as necessary according to the spirit of the world?
Does Jesus say here that the goats among men will be condemned because they neglected their religious sacrifices or obligations, such as the tithing of dill and mint and cummin? What do His words remind us about the weightier provisions of God’s law? Cf. Mat 23:23. Did He say that they were condemned because they didn’t do things outside of their power to do, like healing another’s diseases, or setting captives free? What does this remind us about the justice of God that holds us accountable for what we can do, not what we can’t, and the best thing we can do in the eyes of God is to demonstrate mercy and kindness?
What question do the unrighteous ask, as did the righteous, that indicates their surprise about the basis for their judgment? See Mat 25:44. What does their response communicate about their belief with which they had deceived themselves that if only they had known that He as the King was hungry or thirsty or naked or a stranger or sick or in prison they would have taken care of Him? Cf. 1Jo 4:20-21. Do we deceive ourselves in the same way?
Notice in Mat 25:44 that the NAS take care of = KJV minister = literally serve, from the Greek word diakone,w from which we get our word for a church deacon. How does this help us to understand the ministry of a true deacon? Cf. Act 6:1-6. What does it also teach us about how even the goats among men, and especially those who suppose themselves to be a part of the Lord’s flock, know what it means to minister to others and serve them? Is it then just knowing what it means to minister to others that delivers us into God’s kingdom, or actually ministering to them? Although goats know what it means to minister to others, is it within their nature to do so? How then can a goat be transformed into a sheep with a new nature that is not only able but delights to do so? See Joh 3:3-6.
What does Jesus in the parable say will be the King’s final words to the goats, which He will speak to them in response to their question about not ministering to Him? See Mat 25:45. Who are these, to whom even the least of them the goats did not minister? See Mat 25:40. Is Jesus then saying that the wicked will be judged because they did not minister to those who suffer deprivations in the world as a consequence of their own sins? See 1Pe 4:15-16; cf. 1Pe 2:20. On the other hand, is it necessarily easy to discern when someone suffers as a result of their own sins, or for some other reason? Cf. Joh 9:1-3. Moreover, although we frequently imagine that we shall be able to justify our sins in the day of judgment, in fact, will a person ever be able to justify himself by quibbling with Him whose eyes are a flame of fire and searches the heart and understands every intent of our thoughts? See Luk 19:22; cf. Job 9:2-3.
What do the King’s words in the parable again emphasize about Jesus’ communion and solidarity with those who are born again into His family and serve Him at great cost to their own selves? Cf. Act 9:4-5. Consider that the King’s words to both the sheep and the goats clearly imply that there are among Christ’s brethren those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick and in prison; how does this contradict those who promote a prosperity gospel? From Jesus’ words in this parable that demonstrate His solidarity with such as these, should we suppose in accordance with the prosperity gospel that those who suffer deprivations in the world do so as a consequence of their own sins? What do Jesus’ final words to the goats communicate about the primary reason they are separated out of His kingdom? If they cannot support even the least of those who labor for His kingdom, will they support Him as the Sovereign of that kingdom?